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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#7)

sivananda wall spirit progress
On Equanimity – The Characteristics of a Saint

Intelligent men who have seen the spirit fix their sight upon it and wander about in the world as persons of great and elevated souls. They do not grieve, nor do they wish or ask for anything of good or evil (in this world). They do their works with detachment. Those who rely on themselves remain quiet, unaffected by good or evil and acting their parts with a calm serenity. They take no concern for what is harmful or delectable to them. They are alike indifferent to coming or not coming, going or not going, doing or not doing, and speaking or not speaking. After having come to know their God (as the author of all good), whatever acts or sights may appear pleasant or disgusting to others cease to affect them in any way. He who ceases to act his magical parts (in this playground of the earth) and desists from following his inclinations and childish pranks, shines forth in his spiritual light. Such are the powers gained from spiritual knowledge, and by no other means whatever.

There is no disease or poison, no trouble or affliction so painful to one in this earth as the ignorance one breeds in himself. Lack of dignity, inextricable difficulties, and baseness and degeneracy are all the offspring of ignorance, just like thorns are the offshoots of the prickly ketaki plant.

Try, O Rama, to imitate those who are liberated in their lifetime, who are free to roam about like the gods Hari, Hara and others, and like the holy sages among brahmins. Here (on earth) our miseries are as endless as atoms, and our happiness is as small as a drop of water on a piece of straw. Therefore do not fix your sight upon that little happiness which is beset by misery. Let an intelligent man diligently apply himself to attain that state of endless happiness which is free from pain and constitutes his highest completion. They are reckoned the best of men and deserving of completion whose minds are free from the fever (of worldly cares) and attached to the transcendental state.

A state reached without return, attained so there is no more cause for sorrow, undoubtedly is attainable only by divine knowledge, and that is a certain truth. Even if such a future state did not exist, there would be no harm to believe in it. But if such a state exists, belief in it will save you from the ocean of this world (samsara).
The undecaying, unerring and fearless state of tranquility is nowhere to be had in the three worlds without union (with the Supreme). Having gained that best of gains, no one is liable to the pain from which no wealth, friend or relation can save. Neither the actions of one’s hands and feet in his offerings and pilgrimage to distant lands, nor the bodily pains of asceticism, nor his refuge in a holy place can serve his salvation. It is only by means of one’s best exertions and the fixing of his mind to one object, and also by the subjection of his desires, that one may arrive at the ultimate state (of bliss). So it is that by means of discrimination, reasoning and ultimate ascertainment of truth, a man may avoid the snares of misery and attain his best state.

That ultimate joy is born of and obtainable from peace of mind. It is fruit from the blossom of peace of the high tree of reason. Those engaged in worldliness without mixing in it are like the all-illumining sun and are known as the best of men. The mind at peace and rest, clear and free from errors, and without any attempt or desire neither forsakes nor wishes for the world.

The man who lives content with his quiet and a calm clarity of his soul, with a mind filled with detachment, makes friends of his enemies. The virtuous man who is calm and quiet and friendly to all living beings feels the benign influence of highest truths appearing of themselves in his mind.

Those holy men who have the lotus-like flower of peacefulness growing in the lotus-shaped receptacle of their hearts are said to have a secondary heart like the two hearts of the god Hari (holding Brahma in one of them).

Whether afflicted by disease or disaster, or dragged by the rope of greed, bear yourself up, O Rama, by the composure of your mind. Whatever you do and eat with the calm coolness of your mind, all that is far sweeter to the soul than anything sweet to taste. The mind that is overpowered by the ambrosial flavor of peacefulness and desists from activity may have the body lacerated, but it will heal shortly.

There is nothing in life so delightful to see as the satisfaction one feels at the sight of a contented and peaceful man. Only he who lives a holy life with his gentle and peaceful conduct is said to be truly living in this world.

He is called the meek who neither feels pleasure nor pain at the sight, touch, sound or taste of anything good or bad. He who is indifferent to all objects and neither leaves nor longs for anything, but keeps his senses and appetites under control, is called a saint. He whose mind remains as calm as moonbeams at the approach of either feast or violence, and even at the moment of death, is said to be a saint. Who, though present, neither rejoices nor murmurs at anything but remains as if he were absent from it, and conducts himself as quietly as if he were fast asleep, such a person is called a saint.

He whose complaisant look casts a graceful nectar-like radiance on all around him is said to be a saint. Who feels a cool calmness within himself and is not disturbed or immersed in any state of life, and who though a layman is not worldly minded, such a man is termed a saint. He who does not take the difficulties of life to his mind, however long or great they may be, or who does not think his body to be himself, is known to be a saint. The man of the world who has a mind clear as the sky and is not tainted (by worldliness) is said to be a saint.

Peacefulness is the greatest of all the many virtues and the best decoration of courage. It shines resplendent among all dangers and difficulties. O Rama, seek your perfection in the way in which high-minded men have sought and attained their perfect states, by holding fast onto peacefulness as an imperishable virtue, preserved by the respectable, and never to be lost or stolen.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

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Seeker after Liberation (pt.#6)

2017-09-03-19-44-17The Greatness of True Knowledge

It is by performance of ritual duties and observance of prescribed rules that the demerits of former births are expunged. Upon removing former demerits, understanding turns of itself to become aware of spiritual matters, like the simultaneous flight of a crow towards a falling coconut. But those devoted only to ritual acts are like people plunged in an eddy in which they whirl up and down until they come to perceive the state of supreme (joy). Seeing this (illusory) state of the world, a man must shake off the delusion of his worldly-mindedness, just as the elephant breaks loose from his chains.

This spiritual knowledge was first given to princes, but afterwards it came to be known under the title of royal science (raja vidhya, kingly science). This royal science is of a hidden, esoteric nature. It is also the best kind of spiritual knowledge. Many kings have been set beyond the reach of calamity by knowledge of this science.

It is too intricate, O Rama, to understand the course of this boundless world. Not even the greatest of embodied beings can know it without true knowledge. Know, O support of Raghu’s race, that men of great understanding have passed over the unfordable ocean of the world by means of the raft of their knowledge and reason. Without the remedy of right reason, the unceasing excitement of the senses and the fears and miseries of the world will continually disturb the mind. There is nothing other than rational knowledge that can enable holy men to endure the afflictions of the opposite extremes of heat and cold and wind and rain. The constant cares and miseries which befall to men at every step sometimes serve to torment the ignorant mind like a flame of fire burns straw. But the troubles of this world cannot afflict a wise man who knows the knowable and discerns all things; just as it is impossible for the flame of fire to burn wood drenched by rain.

O best of the eloquent, you must not receive instruction from one unacquainted with truth. Whoever asks such a person anything is the greatest of fools. He is the basest of men who does not carefully attend to the words of the truth-telling teacher who is asked about anything. He is the best inquirer who seeks answers from a person who demonstrates by his actions whether he knows the knowable or not. A person who asks boyish questions without determining the teacher’s qualifications is reckoned a vile inquirer incapable of knowing great things.

When asked, a wise man will reply to him who is able to comprehend the former and later propositions, and who is possessed of a good understanding, but he should make no answer to a vile brutish being. The teacher who gives his lecture without examining the capacity of the inquirer to grasp his meaning is pronounced unwise by the learned.

It is said there are four guards who keep watch at the gate of liberation (moksha), namely: peace (equanimity, self-control), judgment (spirit of inquiry), contentment, and company of the good. At least one of them is to be sought with diligence, even at the expense of one’s life. Because by securing one of these a man can reconcile and gain all four.
The wise man is a receptacle of all scriptures, of all knowledge and austerity, and is a gem on earth, just like the sun is the receptacle of light. The dull understanding of a senseless man becomes as stiff as a block, and like water freezing as hard as stone.

The true light of things dawns only in the minds of the wise, just as the gentle moon appears only in a clear and cloudless sky. He is truly called a man who can judge (the truth) by the major and minor propositions, whose mind is expanded and filled with brilliant ingenuity.

Whatever business or investigation someone undertakes, it must be brought to a happy conclusion that tends towards his peace and tranquility. If men of good understanding did not have the solace of philosophy, what rational being could dare bear the misery that ignorance brings in this world? All the faculties of the mind are absorbed in contemplation of the Supreme, like solar heat dissolves the rocks of boundary mountains at the end of the world. The Supreme Soul of infinite manifestations exists by itself. It passes through and supports the whole in the form of void and understanding and as light to all living beings.

Rama, the intolerable stomach cramping pain caused by this venomous world is healed only by yoga meditation, just like the poison of a snakebite is removed by garda incantations. One obtains the capacity for yoga by discussing the scriptures in the company of good people, which alone can provide us with the great charm of spiritual knowledge.
It must be recognized that we lessen our sorrows by acting with reason. A reasoning man gets released from his worldly sickness. He quits his frame which is full of diseases just like a snake casts off his time-worn skin. He looks with a placid mind and calm composure upon the magic scenes of the world. Hence a fully wise man is not subject to the misery of the imperfectly wise.

Rama, look upon this assembly of great sages, rishis, brahmins and princes who have fortified themselves by the armor of wisdom and are liable to no pain or grief, yet they are engaged in the arduous affairs of this world with minds as placid as yours. Moreover, there are many of the best of men who with their spiritual light and pure understanding reside in this world like the gods Hari (Vishnu), Hara (Shiva) and Brahma above all concerns and fluctuating desires of life.

When serenity of the mind and calm repose of the heart are secured, all the senses are subjected to peace and everything is viewed in an equal light, and this knowledge of the truth gives delight to our journey in this world.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

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CHARACTER & CHARITY

character-educationarticle-600x400CHARACTER

Character is the aggregate of peculiar qualities which constitute an individuality. lt is any distinctive mark or trait of a person.

Character is power. Character is real property. lt is the noblest of all possessions. Gharacter is perfectly educated will. lt is higher than intelligence.
Every man is the architect of his own character. You sow an action, and reap a habit. You sow a habit and reap a character.

Character is not born. lt is formed. The noblest contribution which any man can make for the benefit of posterity is that of a good character.

Character is the produce of self-discipline. The grand aim of man’s creation is the development of a grand character.

The richest bequest which any man can leave to the world is that of a shining, spotless example.
The essential factors in character building are morality, truthfulness, justice, temperance, wisdom, nobility, nonviolence, purity and benevolence.

Nothing in this world-wealth, name, fame, victory is worth a fig or a straw without character. Character must stand behind and back up everything.

Wealth comes and goes. Fame evaporates. Power dwindles. Only one thing endures. That is Character.

Take care of your character. Your reputation will take care of itself. A good character is the fruition of personal exertion. lt is the result of one’s own endeavours. Truthfulness is a corner-stone in character. Not education, but character, is man’s greatest need and greatest safeguard. There is no single royal road to build your character. A variety of routes will always need to be used.

Man is not a creature of circumstances. He is really the architect of circumstances. A man of character builds an existence out of circumstances. He steadily perseveres and plods. He does not look back. He marches forward bravely. He is not afraid of obstacles. He never frets and fumes. He never gets discouraged and disappointed. He is full of vigour, energy, via and vitality. He is ever zealous and enthusiastic.
Small kind acts, small courtesies, small consideration, small benevolence, habitually practised in your social intercourse give a greater charm to your character than great platform lectures, discourses, oration, exhibition of talents, etc.

Character is what one is: reputation, what he is thought to be. His record is the total of his actions. One’s nature includes all his original endowments or propensities; character includes both natural and acquired traits.

CHARITY

That which is given to relieve the needy is charity. True charity is the desire to be useful to others without thought of recompense or reward.

Give cheerfully, quickly and without hesitation.

Prayer takes you halfway to God, fasting to the door of His Supreme Abode and charity procures you admission. Charity is love in action.
The whole world is your home. You are a citizen of the world. Cultivate a generous feeling for the welfare of the whole world.

Every good act is charity. Giving water to the thirsty is charity. An encouraging word to a man in distress is charity. Giving a little medicine to the poor sick man is charity. Removing a thorn or a glass piece on the road is charity.
A little good thought and a little kindness are often worth more than giving a great deal of money.

The best form of charity is Vidya-Dana, imparting wisdom. Wisdom removes ignorance, the cause for taking a body and destroys in toto all sorts of miseries and suffering, for ever.
The second best form of charity is giving medicine to the sick.
The third best form of charity is Anna-dana or giving food to the hungry.

First daughter to the love of God is charity to the poor.
Charity given with an unwilling heart is not charity. Charity is not confined to giving in term of dollars, rupees or shillings. Think well towards suffering people. Pray for their welfare. This will accomplish more good than much money.

Excerpts from “HOW TO CULTIVATE VIRTUES AND ERADICATE VICES” by Sri Swami Sivananda